The Black Woman And Hair Loss Experience; Let’s Have This Conversation

by Duchess Magazine
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The Black Woman And Hair Loss

Hair is a big deal! From all day mood to everyday mood.

Even as a little girl, I’ve always held a fascination for really really long hair; dreamy white models with amazing hair strutting almost flawless physiques on the runway, tons of stunning white models with long locs giving that effortless “I’m-perfect-you’re-not” in your face kinda look in countless unforgettable commercials, films and movies haunted me at my every turn, reminding me eloquently of my “inadequacies.” Yep, it was real deep.

Long hair has forever been associated with feminism, sex appeal and sophistication, but for the black woman with natural hair who lays at the seemingly “unfavourable” end of the beauty standard spectrum it takes a lot of confidence to truly embrace root and authenticity. Thankfully though, today’s world is preaching beauty in diversity/ self acceptance and therefore trashing baseless perfect ideals.

As a black woman, seeing hair fall off from scalp is no shocker. It’s not something that suddenly happens but something one sorts of unconsciously get to embrace – hair just seems to fall off, no matter how carefully combed. Every single day, there’s that not so subtle reminder staring you in the face that you’re losing hair; Combs, brushes – definitely not a welcome reminder in a world where shiny long hair is advertised and portrayed as the ish. The intensity of the breakage? Now that’s where the conversation lies.

Alopecia, more specifically traction alopecia, a hair loss condition is said to affect one-third of women of African descent. Generally, a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors including use of wrong products, way too much extensions,chemicals, tight hairstyles, genetics, poor nutrition, childbirth, have been pinpointed behind hair loss.

Hair loss! As I write this I recall my personal battle; to put it lightly, let’s just say I’ve had a really prolonged bad hair day, lasting years. Okay fine, maybe I’ve never really had full hair which could literally get a comb lost in it, but, I could at least boast of a head full of long hair and by long hair, I don’t mean meeting standards in the international world – I’m Nigerian, so you get the drift.

During my pregnancy journey, I begun noticing clumps of hair falling out, no surprise, I obviously began dreading combing my hair. A visit to the salon was my ultimate nightmare; eliciting rude stares and unsolicited advice from one too many busy bodies. So, in order to save myself the shame, I slowly begun transitioning from my diehard love for extensions to embracing my non-existent love for wigs. Years later, although the breakage has thankfully stopped, for most days I hide under the disguise of a variety of wigs. At home, I’m unashamedly aunaturel, walking around with a shiny middle which has managed to spring up more than a few strands of hair.

Generally, I still remain hopeful though and sometimes find myself scouting for the ultimate hair damage repair cream which will perhaps someday work major magic giving me my once covered head of hair – even if not full in literal terms anyway -at least, I get the luxury of proudly walking the streets totally devoid of extensions, wigs and stares! Just me with my natural mane embracing the cool breeze of nature, walking head held high! Now that, would be amazing!

In the meantime, whilst still on this journey of hair recovery, I refuse to be defined by my hair or lack of it. I choose to believe I am beautiful, any which way, so if perhaps you spot me on the streets with my bald hair in full splendour on days when I feel I just want to let go, know, I’m just doing me. I don’t need anyone’s permission and neither do you!

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